International Skiers Thrive Off Boston Crowd During Big Air At Fenway Final

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BOSTON — Jonas Hunziker wore a Bruins jersey and gushed about how much he liked Terry O’Reilly and the B’s. Vincent Gagnier was almost as interested in the Green Monster as the 140-foot jump in the middle of Fenway Park that was his playground Friday night. Tiril Sjaastad Christiansen called competing in Big Air at Fenway the “sickest” thing she’s ever done.

All of the top three finishers in the ladies and men’s freestyle skiing finals were international stars, but that doesn’t make hitting a jump and flying into the Boston skyline any less surreal for them.

Most of the top skiers admitted they weren’t very knowledgeable about baseball, let alone Fenway Park, before they arrived in Boston this week. But being inside the stadium and seeing 15,442 fans cheer them on gave them a taste of what it’s like to be an athlete in New England. And they loved every second of it.

“It’s hard for us to understand because baseball isn’t really big where we come from,” Sjaastad Christiansen said after coming in third in the ladies’ final. “When I saw all these people — I had no clue when we heard we were going to ski here in Boston in Fenway, I was like, ‘OK. It’s probably like any other competition where 20 people are watching.’ I had no clue it was going to be like this. … I don’t think people really understand how it’s like to ski in front of a crowd like that until you’re standing on the top.”

“Personally, I didn’t know what Fenway was,” second-place ladies’ finisher Emma Dahlstrom added. “So to me it was just the name of an arena. And then when I came here, I understand the history of it and that it’s such a big thing for all of you. It made me proud.”

But no one had more fun with the Boston crowd than Hunziker thanks to his Bruins jersey and love for No. 24.

“I’m just really into ice hockey,” he said after finishing in third in the men’s final. “It’s actually my coach bought it yesterday and he wanted me to ride in it. I like the Boston Bruins. I like O’Reilly, No. 24. And I thought it would be a good idea to get the home crowd on my side.”

The international stars held the people of Boston and their beloved Fenway Park in high esteem, and they were rewarded for it with an experience of a lifetime.

Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@BigAirFenway

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